PlayStation 4 PS4 psvr Recluse Industries Review Separation

Separation PSVR Review

Another day, another PlayStation VR walking simulator. Or is it? I do not mind a VR game that is mainly walking around and exploring. This genre is even made even more poignant when it’s played in virtual reality, the fact you can touch and manipulate the environment increases the immersion massively. I have never really been a fan of the term ‘walking simulator’. As long as a VR game is engaging, immersive and enjoyable then I am happy to spend my time within its world.

Separation PSVR Review

An Eerie, Slow-Paced Adventure

Separation is described by Recluse Industries as a “spiritual journey into epic desolation”. I can honestly say that desolate is the best description I could use to express my time playing this title. My character never saw another living being during my whole time with the game. I saw zero signs of life, no creatures of any sort and not a single thing led me to believe I was anything but alone in this abandoned virtual world. From the moment you wake you are alone.

If I had to sum up what type of game Separation was I would say it was a very relaxed exploration game that was peppered with loose story snippets and meagre puzzle-solving. Most of your time will be spent traversing old ruined buildings, strange architecture in a vast open, barren landscape. Your main goal is to join crystals together with a beam of light, these immense crystals must be moved and adjusted at each point with small puzzles and environmental challenges.

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As is often the case in games like this, the story is an abstract one. You wake up and through small paragraphs of story and infrequent whisperings in your ear, you plod your way through to the conclusion. I will not say too much but it is one of those titles that will mean different things to different people. It is what you make of it and it is interesting if nothing else.

I do feel the developer is walking you through a very personal story though, something they feel needs to be told.

Follow the light through the loneliness.

While I quite enjoyed working out each part of this game spanning light puzzle, I thought that a bit more difficulty thrown in here and there would have improved it vastly. I solved every part of the game’s puzzles remarkably quickly and I thought, on the whole, they were pretty basic and very simple. This does not make them unenjoyable though and maybe that was the point. The whole game was very relaxed and easy going; you could just plod along at your own pace and maybe the puzzles were simple to match the rest of the game’s characteristics.

On the whole, the VR implementation was good in Separation. I had zero issues with tracking, no VR ‘messiness’ and everything ran well. There were some issues on my first stint with the game but on my second attempt, they all seemed to disappear. I put this down to the game not loading properly or my VR setup having an off day. All my sessions after that performed admirably. I did have to reduce my turning angle and speed up my walking speed though, it was far too slow and the angle of turn far too large on their default settings.

There is a lot of walking, 3dRudder support would be an amazing addition.

The default VR options are probably there to ease VR newbies into the medium but I have had hundreds of hours in VR and just wanted to get a wriggle on. I would have liked a few more VR control options like in other PSVR titles and 3dRudder support would have been great with this title but what we had sufficed. It ran well, controlled well and the VR stuff worked. I did fall off a lift once and had to restart the game but this was an isolated incident and I thought nothing more of it.

There is a compilation of collectables to find during your lonely strolls – squirrelled away in not too hard to reach places are little glowy orbs called Sorrows. There are ten of these to find and as with most of the game, they are not too hard to come across. I found most during my initial playthrough and it was not too much hassle collecting the rest of them.

After all, you will need them all for something in the end……

Some of the landscape design is superb.

The Sights and Sounds of Loneliness

Graphically, Separation could be better, it is by no means an ugly game but some of the textures and assets are modelled at a very low resolution. Compared to some of the best looking games on PSVR, Separation is a mile away but, when you get immersed and are in the thick of it, it does not really matter. When you get engaged in the gameplay, the low-resolution graphics fade away into nothing and you forget about it.

I am no graphics snob but I feel the need to mention it nonetheless.

Recluse Industries mentioned on Twitter that the graphical style is inspired by Caspar David Friedrich and after a quick google search, I can definitely see the similarities. While the graphics are at times simple and low res, the actual look of the landscape and the structures that inhabit it are superb. Looking to the horizon and scanning the world around you only adds to its loneliness and isolation, you really do feel completely alone.

From the moment you first wake, you are alone.

The music, which was my favourite part of Separation, was very good. In between the long silences, which suit this game down to the ground, you are treated to serene synth scores that really give Separation an ethereal and uplifting vibe. When you are meandering through a desolate, barren wasteland, these bursts of uplifting music really propel you forward and drive you onward to the game’s conclusion. While the silent parts make you feel more alone each time you hear them. Massive credit to Vector Lovers for creating a perfectly fitting soundtrack.

A Short, Enjoyable Experience

An experience is the best way I can think to describe Separation. Its gameplay is minimal, its runtime short but on the whole it is enjoyable. I came away from it feeling relaxed, uplifted and at the end of the day, I count that as a win. I also found out by reading twitter that this game was developed by one man and that in itself should be applauded, it feels like a special journey, a journey the developer wanted to take you on and a personal story he wanted to tell the player directly.

Separation is out now on PS4.

Review code kindly provided by the publisher.



The Final Word

For what it is, Separation is an enjoyable couple of hours. Its graphics may not be the best on the platform and its gameplay may be a bit on the thin side but what you are left with is a very bleak and personal journey. A journey through a barren landscape set to an amazing soundtrack that constantly propels you onward to your goal. It is a relaxing experience that I think most players will enjoy.